The England international says that the words of the former Red Devils boss helped him to adjust to life in the senior squad as a teenager
Marcus Rashford has opened up on his time spent working under Louis van Gaal at Manchester United, expressing his gratitude towards the Dutchman for giving him the chance to shine at Old Trafford.
The English forward rose through United’s youth ranks before graduating to the senior squad in 2015 and quickly managed to force his way into Van Gaal’s plans.
Rashford endeared himself to supporters instantly when he hit two goals on his full Red Devils debut in a Europa League victory over Midtjylland in February 2016
He had the same impact during his first Premier League appearance for the club, scoring twice in a 3-2 win against Arsenal, and went on to finish the season with eight goals from 18 outings across all competitions.
Fast forward four years and Rashford has established himself as one of United’s most important players , while also earning a regular place in Gareth Southgate’s England set-up.
While reminiscing on the lessons he learned during Van Gaal’s stewardship, Rashford revealed that the ex-United boss helped to make him “smile every day”, even in difficult moments such as a 3-0 defeat against Spurs during which he was subbed off at half-time.
“The time with Louis was very good for me. He and Ryan Giggs helped me a lot,” the 22-year-old told BT Sport . “Because that transition from the reserves to the first team can be hard – I hadn’t played much reserve football.
“I was on the bench for the first team before I had even started for the reserves. Van Gaal was top.
“At the time I was getting a lot of praise and attention from everywhere outside but the biggest thing for me were his words.
“That was what was making me smile every day. To be part of Man United’s first team. There were some games when it was difficult.
“I remember a game – Tottenham away – when he took me off at half-time. The next day we spoke honestly – I was still smiling.”
Rashford added on being hit with a “reality check” after United’s FA Cup triumph in 2016: “Sometimes we are our biggest nightmare. We want everything too fast.
“Because we won the FA Cup with Van Gaal, I had it in my mind that we were going to win everything. So you are going into the season with expectations and you get a reality check.
“The way he dealt with the Spurs situation – that was the game I realised I was in a man’s world.”
United haven’t managed to rediscover past glories but gradual progress is being made under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the 2019-20 campaign.
The Red Devils have risen to fifth in the Premier League standings and will look to close the gap to fourth-placed Chelsea even further when they face Arsenal on New Year’s Day.
Rashford will be aiming to add to his tally of 12 goals when United arrive at the Emirates before focus shifts to a third-round FA Cup tie against Wolves on January 4.